Why is Semantic HTML so important for SEO?

Why is Semantic HTML so important for SEO?

Semantic HTML is important but why?

Using clean HTML for your websites will get your web pages to rank higher on search engines. It's one of the most important areas of Search Engine Optimisation

What will you learn in this article about semantic HTML?

  • What is semantic code?
  • Headings, subheadings
  • Emphasized content
  • ALT and readability 
  • Sectioned type content with articles, asides, addresses, etc
  • Microdata markup [a brief explaination]

What is semantic code?

If you search Google you will find this definition:

Semantic Relating to meaning in language or logic.

20 years ago it was relatively easy to get a website high in search engine results pages by simply changing the structure of a web page, you could put a list of keywords at the top of the page, make the font colour the same as the page background colour and make the font size small.

Then within 3-5 weeks, it would pop to the top of the search engine results pages. But as we all know this was classed as Keyword stuffing and within a few months, Google found ways to downrank web pages that used this tactic.

So why am I telling you this, it’s not relevant to today's SEO, right? Well in a way it proves that the way a webpage is designed & built still has a huge impact on what a search engine will look for on your web page.

Architecture, Content, Trust [A.C.T]

Search engines have many ways of evaluating your website or marketing message. Architecture is one of the most important and often overlooked areas.

Semantic code is relevant to this, it makes your website run faster and if you are in a competitive or oversaturated market, this could be one way of beating your competition to rank higher. 

Headings and subheadings

It is essential to break your page into easy to read chunks of copy. Paragraphs should have just two sentences per paragraph.

But most importantly tell your audience what you're going to tell them with bullet points and then use the same bullet points as headings for each part of your content. H2 or H3 is perfect for this job

IMPORTANT H1 should only be used once for the main page title.

Emphasized content

When you are writing your content remember the intent of your audience. Are they likely to only read your content for some quick tips or do they need a lot of technical information?

Either way, it’s important to use the <em> tag and <strong> tag to highlight important or should I say emphasized content that is relevant to the keywords you are targeting. They should also be bite sized information.

TIP: Don't overemphasise or highlight otherwise it will dilute your message

ALT and Readability 

The ALT tag is used to give an image alternative meaning, IE for allowing readers of your content with impaired vision to still be able to read and understand your content. It is an accessibility function that is important for all users of your website.

Sectioned type content with articles, asides, address etc

Other important things to consider to make your page easier to read by the search engine bots is to introduce:

  • <section>
  • <article>
  • <aside>
  • <main>
  • <header>
  • <footer>
  • <address>

Once you have re written your content into sections it is easy to apply CSS styling to the sections, which will make it look good to the user.

This has two major benefits, it makes the code easier to read for the bots, but also quicker to load for your users, as the DOM will load and then the CSS will be cached and applied to your code to make it look visually appealing to the users.

For further reading, I recommend reading https://schema.org/docs/schemas.html

Microdata markup [a brief explaination]

To quote https://schema.org/docs/gs.html#microdata_why

"Hey search engine, this information describes this specific movie, or place, or person, or video"—you can help search engines and other applications better understand your content and display it in a useful, relevant way.

This means you can direct search engines to take notice of the most important use parts of your website in a far more meaningful way, they can be used for many purposes from articles to jobs listings. Where ever possible you should use microdata to mark up your page to get your website higher in search engine results pages.

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